Olympic Games poster in 1932

Los Angeles joined the race to win the 2024 Olympics here Tuesday after city leaders gave unanimous backing for a bid to stage the sporting extravaganza for a third time.

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) formally named Los Angeles as its candidate soon after the city council members voted 15-0 in favour of supporting the bid.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Los Angeles as our US bid city for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” USOC chief Scott Blackmun said. 

“LA has the proven experience in hosting the Games, and knows how to deliver world-class events for athletes and an extraordinary experience for fans.”

Los Angeles has hosted the Olympics twice before, in 1932 and in 1984, widely regarded as one of the most commercially successful Games of the modern era.

“The Olympics loves LA & LA loves the Olympics,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “We hope to return the Games back home.”

The United States has not hosted a Summer Olympics since the Atlanta Games in 1996.

Los Angeles faces fierce competition from other cities that have already entered the race for the 2024 Games, including Paris, Rome, Hamburg and Budapest.

Although the high costs of staging the biggest sporting event on the planet has dissuaded some cities from chasing the Olympics, Garcetti emphasised that the Los Angeles bid benefitted from the fact that many venues were already built.

“It is important to stress that we are not changing the face of our city to fit the Olympic Games,” Garcetti said. 

“We have a vision of our city that the Olympics can benefit from, not vice versa.”

Blackmun said Los Angeles’s bid was in keeping with the International Olympic Committee’s recent pledges to scale back the vast spending associated with the Games. 

The IOC was “looking to partner with cities to create a new hosting model, a model that sheds excessive spending, using existing venues and builds as little as necessary.”

The decision to award the Games will be taken in 2017. Leading British bookmakers Ladbrokes have installed Paris as the early favourite, with Rome 4/1 and Los Angeles and Hamburg at 7/1.  

Olympic Games poster in 1984

– Bullish projections –

Los Angeles re-entered the running for 2024 after USOC’s original choice Boston withdrew amid fears of taxpayers being left on the hook for cost overruns. 

LA24, the nonprofit running the Los Angeles bid, last week issued a detailed 200-page draft bid book that bullishly projected the games could deliver a surplus, despite a $4.6 billion price tag. 

Local businessman and philanthropist Casey Wasserman, the chair of LA24, said an Olympics in Los Angeles “can be and will be the most responsible Games possible.” 

LA24 said the Games could generate $4.8 billion, resulting in a profit of around $161 million.

Los Angeles city analysts however sounded a note of caution last week, stating it was “difficult to determine the fiscal impact and risk to the city of hosting the 2024 Games at this time.” 

A review of the budget detailed in the bid book warned that costs for one of the key construction projects, the Olympic Village, may “significantly exceed” the projected $1 billion it was expected to cost. 

Tuesday’s city council vote backing the Olympic bid contains wording that allows Los Angeles City ongoing scrutiny of possible bid costs.

“This is the engagement not the wedding — and now we’re in the prenup stages,” council leader Herb Wesson said.

The Los Angeles bid relies heavily on existing venues such as the downtown Staples Center, home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, which would host gymnastics. 

A revamped Los Angeles Coliseum — the main Olympic stadium used in the 1932 and 1984 Games — will be at the heart of the Olympics. 

The bid also outlines plans to incorporate famous Los Angeles city landmarks and attractions, such as mountain biking in the shadow of the Hollywood sign, beach volleyball on the golden sands of Santa Monica and Hollywood Boulevard hosting the marathon and road cycling. – Agence France-Presse

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